In part three of our series large family organization tips we will look at our kitchen.
When you walk into a kitchen, do you imagine seeing perfectly cleaned up countertops? Appliances all neatly wiped down and looking uniform? Not a speck of paper left anywhere? Images of magazines make kitchens look appealing, but in reality what is your kitchen looking like when you walk in? Try it, step out of your kitchen and then walk back into it. What is the first thing that catches your eye? What is something your husband notices when he comes in—be humble and ask him? What are you embarrassed that guests will see when they come over?
For my own kitchen, it is the catch all for everything and that usually leads to clutter. When you have one or two people usually it is more manageable. But add in 6,7,8,10… people and the clutter become overwhelming quickly. So lets say that you are supermom and have all of the counters cleared of papers and the food put away, but you still look at your kitchen and see clutter. We can have clutter by having too many decorations and appliances sitting out on the countertops and for the most part they rarely get used.
In our home, we have to implement quick clean up’s at multiple times throughout the day. Usually it is after meals but at dinner time it needs to be done before Dad walks in. My husband doesn’t mind a messy home because he understands the amount of work it takes to do that, but I can tell that he does get bothered by it. I like to try and get the major dishes, the dinner prep ones washed and put away before we even serve dinner. I want to try and create an atmosphere that is not chaotic, and somewhat peaceful for my husband as he comes home after a long, usually stressful day. I know for myself, I appreciate it when my husband gets the house picked up when he is at home watching the children if I am out for an event. I try and do the same for him. But things happen, we get overwhelmed and tired and I am thankful that I have a husband who is patient with me as I work through the struggles that can arise in my job as homemaker.
I know that when we have our afternoons go as planned, I have prepared and cleaned up dinner prep mess, and have all our “work” done for the day, it frees up our nights to just enjoy our time with Dad, instead of relating how “horrible and chaotic” of a day I have had. I am then usually free to be able to take the children outside and spend some relaxing time from my busy day as well.
Having a home that is organized and in order especially in a large family is definitely a must for a peaceful day.
So how do we go about decluttering and organizing these areas?? Just like everything else in home management, we need a place for everything and everything in its place rule. We also need to train our children to put things away and not just “set” them on the counters.
Some people have these large elaborate kitchens with much counter space and spacious cabinets to hold everything, those are not what we have. But I don’t mind Having a small kitchen has taught me to be neat, keep down my clutter, and be creative when it comes to organizing my kitchen. When it comes to working it keeps my children and myself close-knit and together. I prefer it. We would probably make a larger mess and maybe not clean up as we go if we had a larger kitchen.
In my kitchen, we try and keep all of our food downstairs in our pantry. It is much easier to look at one big shelf of food and know what we have, instead of searching through multiple cabinets. ( We will do a pantry organization in this series as well).
I do keep a smaller pantry upstairs for baking items and spices. I like to keep items up here that I can get to quickly while baking and cooking foods.
I purchase all my spices at a Bulk Food Store–much cheaper than the grocery store. I always have on hand the following for creating meals:
- chopped onion–I like the ease of adding dried chopped onions, vs having to get out the food processor.
- garlic salt–to make garlic butter with
- dried green peppers–nice having these around even if you are out of fresh ones.
- oregano–for our homemade spaghetti sauce
- basil–for our spaghetti or mostaccioli
- cumin–for hummus ––made almost every week
- chili powder
- sea salt and pepper
I like to hang my aprons inside here for quick access to.
Also on the top shelf we keep peanut butter, cornstarch, non cooking spray, or any other spice that is open and needs to be used up.
On the left is a funnel to help pour our filtered water from a 5 gallon jug to a container with a spigot in the refrigerator.
The next shelf contains:
- dried milk–much cheaper to use in cooking than prepared milk
- white flour—my husband prefers this in over white/wheat flour in his cinnamon rolls
- gallon of maple syrup
- vinegar–to use in our homemade cleaner–we use everyday
- coconut oil–in gallon container
We then have gallon glass containers and some plastic ones that I have saved from our coconut oil. In those we keep the items that we have stored down in the basement in 5 gallon buckets.
- brown rice
- white whole wheat flour
- raw sugar
At the bottom of the pantry I have my appliances.
- popcorn poppers—we love popcorn
- food processor
- 4 slice toaster–my daughter makes great club sandwiches
- griddle–great for making french toast on
On the door are my homemade mixes. I like to keep our Parmesan cheese containers to store this stuff in. I have made the following and will be adding soon.
- ranch mix
- chicken bouillon
- taco seasoning
- baking powder–aluminum free
We also just use this containers to store the following:
- pretzel salt
- potato flakes–for thickening soups like potato bacon chowder
- regular salt—for spills in the oven, or when someone drops an egg on the floor–just sprinkle over the egg and scoop it up. Happens ALOT around here.
On these shelves I have:
- baking soda
- container of rice–when cleaning out our water bottles, it is hard to clean the insides out. I sprinkle some dry rice and swish around with warm water. Cleans the insides perfectly. Works great for baby bottles too.
- my bulk peppermint tea—I ALWAYS have 2 bags in my water bottle.
- maple/vanilla flavoring
- popcorn flavoring
In our cup cupboard we have some plastic cups. We do not own glass. In our household it does not last long. I keep sippy cups in here with the tops and valves in a smaller container.
Notice the toothbrushes??? Yes much easier to brush everyone’s teeth after breakfast by the sink.
I also keep a basket of hair supplies under my sink with a brush, comb, and squirt bottle of water to help manage their hair.
My kitchen is my centralized location, I do everything here if I do not have to deviate from this room very much, my life is easier. I keep all that I can here.
We have our plate cupboard and that includes these dishes. I have a set of plastic ones for my lunch time meals, they are small and easy to clean. Having little ones reminds me that they like their foods separately, not touching. This was a good solution.
Over the years I have had many place settings and most of them have gotten broken or chipped. When I was looking to buy something one time and no more I had to find something that was indestructible. I thought about cafeteria style plates like what we used to get in schools for lunch. That led me to an ebay purchase and I found 30 of these plates for around $25 shipped. I love them, large enough to fit multiple foods for dinner, very sturdy, and a place to hold silverware. Plus its kind of funny to watch when you have guests and you hand them your “cafeteria tray” for dinner. 🙂
I do keep 4 regular porcelain plates, for my husbands dinner, as he gets home after we eat. I put his food on one and top with an upside down plate and set his food in the oven. We don’t own a microwave so I need to be able to keep his warm. We also have plastic bowls for cereal. One day, I would like a set of bowls that is the same kind of material as our dinner plates. Hint, hint, if my hubby is reading this (which he should be:) for Christmas maybe.
We also have a cabinet for our cooking pots. I finally was able to replace all of our teflon leaking pans and invested in some nice stainless steel pots over the last few years. Staying with a minimalist mindset I keep only what I need:
- 2 large stainless stock pots, the heavy bottom kind
- 1 chicken fryer
- 1 regular frying pan for omelets
- 1 small pot for melting things like butter, coconut oil, etc. Remember no microwave
- lg roaster pan–we use it to make lasagna and burrito casserole
- I also put my muffin tins here, they are just kind of in the way anywhere else.
My favorite thing that I did “new” in organizing was to make a baking cupboard. I like to be efficient at all that I do, when it comes to working in the kitchen it would only make sense to apply it here as well. I took our old cup cupboard and turned it into a baking cupboard.
In this cupboard, I put every cooking tool that I would use for baking and that includes these:
- 6 stainless steel bread pans
- glass mixing bowls–they have not broke yet?!?!?!
- stainless steel mixing bowls
- rolling pin
- hand mixer
- measuring cups and spoons
- tea towels–for laying over rising bread
- paper muffin cups
- cookie scoop
I also stored my serving dishes here. I have about 5 that I have around. Nice to put on the lazy susan and just spin it around to get which one I need.
This has cut down on a bunch of movements when baking in my kitchen. I can usually put a girl right in front of this cupboard and she doesn’t have to move around the kitchen much to get all the supplies she needs.
In our oven, I keep our baking sheets inside of here. They are flat and fit nicely. I own 2 jelly roll style pans and 6 air baked cookie sheets. They have lasted for many years in our household.
We own a refrigerator and no other major appliances. I keep this bible verse on our refrigerator to remind my children to do their work first then they will be allowed to eat.
We have a large stainless steel bowl that I use for mixing up large batches of baked goods. I also use it for popcorn. It is too big to store inside cupboards. This is a perfect place for it, up and out of the way.
This cupboard is pretty much empty as of now, I put our extra larger bowls in. A cheese grater, my blade for my food processor–I nailed it up on the back as it is very sharp, and a mesh strainer. This cupboard is up on top, way out of children’s reach. Guess this is called my “danger” cupboard.
Next to my stove up on top is this cupboard. Kind of out of the way and not needed in my daily routine. I use it to store my cleaning rags—I use microfiber cloths. I also have an old toothbrush, scrub brush, scotch brite pads, and sponges for cleaning in this box. I also store our paper towels. I use them to quickly wipe the bathrooms in the mornings.
In front–kind of a strange cupboard to some–is my tin foil. It is next to my oven and almost everyday I am baking dinner and need to pull off a sheet of tin foil. This is perfect as it is right next to it.
This cupboard is up next to the cleaning rag one. I love having all my supplies up high. In here I keep the following:
- washing soda
- fels naptha–for making laundry soap
- tea tree oil–used in making cleaning supplies
- alcohol–for window cleaner
- homemade window cleaner
- homemade furniture polish
- homemade all purpose cleaner
- dish soap
- simple green—for cleaning heavier jobs.
In this cupboard I store all my plastic containers. In the back I put my 3 glass baking dishes. With some disposable pans–I must of been doing some freezer cooking. I also keep some serving platters back here. Not a high traffic area cupboard so not a big deal that it is full.
After watching a documentary about plastic and our world, it has made me be more aware and cautious about wasting plastic bags. We rewash them as much as we can and I put them into this basket which is stored in that cupboard.
In the top of this cupboard I store my crockpot and the right and on the left I keep a basket of plastic baggies.
We have a lazy susan pantry, that I despise in my kitchen. I never liked it for food as I hated having things fly off and fall behind. I emptied this cupboard and didn’t use it for the longest time, until now. I store all of my extra paper supplies in here. I don’t use these items much, but I like them accessible. This cupboard was perfect. It keeps my:
- paper plates
- plastic ups
- plastic spoons
- plastic forks
- extra plastic containers–that we freeze most all of our foods into–and lids.
We use paper plates occasionally, I usually buy a large package and it lasts one month. I like to have the disposable items on hand, because we hold once per month teen open mics at our home. We serve food and have a rockin time. Nice having the disposable items for these events.
One last cupboard up high is my catch all cupboard–out of children’s reach.
In this cupboard, I keep:
- my cookbooks–I only own 3
- my medical box
- my purse
- jar of change
- my vitamins
- lotion bottle
- small box full of miscellaneous things like super glue, matches, and a flashlight–I like to have these here in case of an emergency
- my special treats– Jelly Belly anyone–this is my bribing tool:)
This is my medicine box, I used to keep it in the hallway towel closet, but my little ones have a fascination with bandaids and whenever I needed one, I never had one. We used to store our pain medicine in the bathroom but every time I needed it, I would have to go get it on the other end of the house. Now it is all in one area.
- band aids
- antibiotic ointment–for cuts
- hydro-cortisone cream-for itches
- Motrin–for all ages, pain or fever
- vapor rub–to help with breathing
- Carmex–the best lip balm out there
- cough drops
- nail clippers
- tweezers–we get ticks here
- medicine droppers
- prescription medication
This is all up high, no worries about a curious preschooler climbing into the medicine cabinet. Can you tell that happened???
Do you have some men in your family who come home and just empty their pockets on the countertops? I do and I usually go about picking it up and putting it where “I” think it should go. That usually leads to my husband asking the next day where it was that I put the things he sat on the countertop. So how do you go about respecting your husbands area for things without disrupting your “clean and decluttered” kitchen? You create a “catch-all” drawer or container. Also known as a junk drawer. In this drawer, I have a basket for the items that my husband leaves on the counter. The next time he asks where his stuff is, I can direct him to the drawer.–I have since moved this up to the container with the matches and flashlight in.
Onto my drawers…….
Most have become empty. I finally got what I wanted for years……..
Sounds simple. A container to hold forks and spoons that I can leave out on the counter. Might not be a big deal for some, but when you are dishing out meals for 12 people, grabbing drinks, and then go find silverware for everyone , it can take some time. Now everyone can grab their own on the way to the table, but out of the servers way in the kitchen. One of my favorite things in my kitchen:)
In my old top drawer, it used to hold silverware but not any more. Now it holds all of my items in one drawer. I keep a container for toddler forks and spoons, one for serving spoons, one for knives. I only keep 4 butter serving knives and 2 paring knives, throw in a pair of kitchen shears and I am all ready for cutting.
I also keep my can opener here, melon baller, thermometer, ice cream scoop, and apple corer. I have 3 serving cutters for cakes and pies as well.
***note— can openers I despise as well. We go through them almost every 3-5 months. Ridiculous. I have tried, electric, brand name, nothing stays. I just recently bought one that was Made in America. It works nicely and I hope it lasts. I will keep you posted.
The next drawers as of now are empty, a good feeling.
The bottom drawer holds our wash cloths and hand towels. I do not keep these anywhere else in the home. It is much easier for me to have a central location, instead of constantly delivering to multiple places. We go through many wash cloths a day, washing 5 children’s’ faces multiple times per day, we use many. This drawer gets emptied about every 2 days.
This is one more drawer that we have. I originally had it like this:
But have now only kept the rechargeable batteries and charger in. Everything else I moved.
My counter tops are simple, not much to clean off. By my stove, I keep pot holders hung for easy access to the oven. I have my homemade Modge Podge tiles on the wall. In our plant pots I have a chive plant and a orange mint tea plant. I like to take the leaves off and put it in my water to drink during the day. The chives we use in eggs and soups.
I keep this container full of utensils so that my drawers do not get over loaded. I also keep our large knives in here.
- butcher meat knife
- bread cutting knife
- wooden spoons
- large stainless steel spoon
- slotted large spoon
- potato masher
I try and save up and buy one good utensil from our bulk food Mennonite store when I go shopping there about every 3 months. They have good quality items and I know they will last me for life.
**This is our counters now. My plants have since died. I realize that I do not have a very good green thumb. It has to be learned:) I keep our water bottles on the counter at all times.
We decided to invest in some good water bottles. I bought these Contigo ones and really like them. I bought a different design for every member of the family. I wash these out every night and fill every morning. It is much easier than washing a million, ok hundreds of cups throughout the day from sips here and there. It is also very nice that when we go somewhere I just grab all the water bottles and everyone has a drink. No more disposable water bottles.
The only thing I keep on my counter top all the time is my electric tea kettle. This is how I make my coffee. I use instant coffee and hot water. I use the same coffee cup everyday, bought it at the Dollar store. I also try and keep a bowl of cut up carrots to munch on during the day. As part of my weight loss help. Being in the kitchen constantly I am too tempted to munch on foods, I try and grab these carrots to feed the need.
By our sink, I keep out a small bottle of dish soap and a washcloth to do dishes with. We used to use a sponge, but I realized that you can just as easily wash with a washcloth. I keep a stainless steel scrubbie underneath the sink for those hard to clean pots
My husband is so amazing and saw my need for a large family dishrack. Our dish racks were always over flowing. I resorted to using bath towels. Which left me with 3 extra bath towels to wash every day. For Mothers Day this year, he made me this amazingly super heavy duty dish drainer and rack.
I could literally, if I really wanted to, leave out almost a whole days worth of dishes and let them sit and not be put away. That is how much this rack holds. I absolutely LOVE it!!! The best thing ever, I think he needs to sell these:)
This is my little nook in the kitchen. It keeps all my information at. I have my household binder, which holds all my homeschooling information, book lists, recipes, chore packs, and business paperwork. I keep my computer netbook on the counter top here to be able to use it as needed.
On the walls:
- click here to see our master menu1
- click here to see our master chorelist1
- click here to see our dish washing schedule Lunch clean up
On my bulletin board I keep a calendar, any bills to be paid–there are none at the time of my photo, and notes and things that I need to keep track of. I also keep my file cabinet keys, a set of baby nail clippers—because I hate having to track those down, and pictures of friends.
I have this little wooden container and it holds my camera, my phone, and my tablet. I didn’t want to see charger cords so my husband drilled a hole into our counter tops and I was then able to keep it plugged in without having to see the cord mess everyday.
This is where it is plugged in at and above it is my counter tops.
This is underneath my area. I keep my crock pot, glass serving dish, and large mixing bowls here.
***As with everything I have made some changes to my work area. Here is what it looks like now.
Instead of paperwork all over the wall, I contain it to the bulletin board. I have put away my binder–straight up above in the cupboard. I also have done away with lists.
This has replaced my notepads. I made it out of a picture frame and some scrapbook paper. I use a dry erase marker and write down what I need, wipe when finished So much better than scribbled out paper slips. See how I made it here.
The shelves under my work area have since become empty. I have a very curious toddler who likes to climb. I had to remove all the items under here as he was getting into them. Makes it look neater.
That is how we do our large family organization of the kitchen. I am sure we can improve on some areas. That is what I like to do, if I find things that don’t work and are constantly causing me to clean, then I usually revamp my organizing and find a different way.
So this article sounds all good, but what if organizing is NOT your “natural” thing to do? Do you just say forget it? No way. When we don’t know how to do something we just start little by little and learn to do it. I never knew how to cook, I wasn’t a natural organizer at all. But God knew how to work on me and teach me. By things getting overwhelmingly full and having so many things, I had to want to do different to reduce some of the chaotic stress in my life. Usually most new things look overwhelming. Think of when you first accepted Christ as your Savior……Did you look at how far you had to go to become a “good Christian?” Or do you look at how far you have come? We have to remember when things get big we don’t call it quits, we just look at those mountains and instead of trying to climb them and fall back down, we say to it to be thou removed and God will help us.
How do you start?
- Pay attention to the things you do in your kitchen.
- How much fumbling do you do for an object each day?
- How many times do you constantly look for that one item?
- How much moving around do you do searching for this and that?
- Keep in mind what you want to fix and fix it.
Start with paperwork
You need to identify what the paperwork is and where it came from and then where it is supposed to go. Sort through your mail by the trash can and immediately throw away junk mail. Open the bills and place them in an area that you pay your bills at. Put the magazines and newspapers in the area that you read them at. After you have read the magazine or newspaper throw it away. If you have an article or recipe that you want to save from the publication then cut it out and place it in your household binder or in your recipe box. If it is paperwork for your husband place it in an area just for that. I use my wall clipboards for that purpose.
Counter tops and appliances
If your counter-tops are covered in appliances, you need to reevaluate which ones you actually “need” out everyday and which ones you can put away because it takes probably 10 seconds to get it out again. It is more pleasing to the eye and makes a nicer workplace for you to be in. Clearing the clutter from the kitchen is not a once and forever job, it is something that needs to be evaluated every few months. It can creep up on us and we need to be diligent in watching it so that it doesn’t take us over. What makes it hard, is that we have to constantly fumble around it to do our everyday work. We need to train ourselves to be more efficient in removing the clutter from our kitchen counters.
Time to sort and pitch items
You need to go through every cupboard and drawer in your kitchen and see which items you use regularly and which you use occasionally–put those in a box in basement, and ones you never use. Keep the ones you never use in a box and in a months time if you don’t need that item, give the stuff away. For example we use 4 knives in our kitchen. I have 2 vegetable paring knives, 1 bread cutting knife, and 1 meat butcher knife. That is all I ever need. I used to have a knife set and quickly realized I rarely used them, why was I holding onto them? Get rid of them. Free yourself from clutter.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Start small. Each day clean out 1 cabinet and 1 drawer. In a week or 2 weeks time you will have completely went through every cupboard in your kitchen. Remember keep the items in a box to give away but put it in a separate area out of sight. See if you even think about those items after a months time. Also keep items that you don’t normally use like roasters, cake pans, canning items, etc, in a basement or separate storage area.
Start paying attention to how many movements you make when doing daily tasks in the kitchen.
- Is all your coffee items in the same area?
- How about all your baking items in the same area?
- When it is time to cut up vegetables are they all within the sinks area?
- Breakfast materials in same place?
Put the items that you use daily within reach. If you have children place things that they are responsible for getting out at their level. When I had four little children and no older helpers I placed all of our cups and dinner plates on a bottom cupboard to keep my children from climbing counters everyday.
Up next the dining room….